The event, sponsored by the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless (LICH), had the Pride joined by several other groups of volunteers, who helped set-up, sort and pack clothes and goods for both individuals and homeless shelters, deliver those goods to waiting vehicles, as well as repacking and breaking down the multi-purpose room hall at the end of the evening.
"We are truly thankful for all of our groups of volunteers," Charles Russo, LICH Board of Directors chair said Thursday night. "The Hofstra Men's Lacrosse team has been involved with us for several years and is always there when we need them. Seth (Tierney, head coach) and his student-athletes have been here not only for the Vigil but for our other events throughout the year as well and we greatly appreciate their service."
The LICH (formerly the Nassau-Suffolk Coalition for the Homeless (NSCH) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate homelessness on Long Island and improve the lives of Long Islanders who are homeless or facing homelessness. LICH was founded in 1985 as an advocacy and information/referral organization to help homeless individuals and families throughout Long Island. Since that time, LICH's network has grown to include over 125 agencies and organizations and approximately 100 individuals.
The purpose of the coalition has expanded to include the coordination of homeless services provided by more than 125 agencies through the development of the Continuum of Care groups in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Since 1995, LICH has also coordinated applications to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for homeless funding. LICH's successful coordination of the Continuum of Care applications have resulted in over $101 million in funding for housing and services for Long Island's homeless since 1996. LICH has also provided technical assistance to organizations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties whose services do not meet the criteria for HUD funding, but are essential for meeting the needs of the homeless.
"We are the ones who are grateful to be involved with Mr. Russo and the great people and organizations of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless," Tierney said. "In our busy lives for both our staff and student-athletes, we sometimes forget the people who are less fortunate and need a helping hand. We are honored to be able to assist the LICH efforts and look forward to helping in the future."
Homelessness is a problem on Long Island, and the numbers are steadily rising. Thousands of Long Islanders are homeless. Two-thirds are members of families; fifty percent (50%) are children. Three-quarters of Long Island's homeless are unseen, moving from one emergency situation to the next, often living doubled or tripled up with relatives or friends. Twenty-five percent (25%) of Long Island's homeless live on the street, in abandoned cars, vacant buildings or in dangerous housing. For more information on the LICH and how you can help, please visit their website at www.nsch.org.